Air travel opens up incredible avenues of exploration. If you want to soar the skies and land in a faraway location, there's an airline that can get you there.

But the availability and convenience of such expansive coverage comes at a cost. Add in the price of fuel, maintenance, manpower and more, and air travel can quickly become cost prohibitive for many.

If you want to travel by air but don’t want to pay the exorbitant cost, there are some inventive ways you can earn free — yes, free — transport. This article is the first in a travel series to show you how.

The Technique: Organize Group Travel

If you possess leadership and planning skills, you might be the perfect candidate to help others with a domestic or international adventure. Some reputable travel companies award complimentary travel (air and accommodations) to an individual who organizes a group for a single-tour package. The person recruits a small group of adult friends, co-workers or community members to all tour together. With their paid packages, the coordinator then gets to travel with them for free!

The Expectations: Your Responsibilities

You will serve as the point person between potential travelers and the tour company. You may be asked to help register individuals, aid them in obtaining passports, help ensure transport of the group to the airport — or you may simply be responsible for being the liaison between a tour guide and the members while on tour. Different companies have different requirements, but here’s the good news: a group coordinator gets to enjoy the travel experience just like everyone else!

Personally, I’ve been on two international trips (to Turkey and Iceland, both with Go Ahead Tours) that had groups led by coordinators. Having a point of contact, knowing someone is always going to have a camera ready, and being able to share memories from the trip of a lifetime with another person from “home” is so refreshing. The coordinators did some work before the trip, but it was nice to see them kick back and enjoy the vacation experience just like the rest of the participants on the tour once it started.

Getting Started: Researching Options

Lots of options exist, especially with tour companies that cater to different types of individuals and interests (such as tours that cater to adventure travel, tours with a food/wine focus, eco-tours that focus on service to a visited community, etc.). However, to get a taste of available options, consider checking out the following companies:

  • Go Ahead Tours: When six individuals sign up for a single trip, the designated Group Coordinator gets to travel for free. Exotic international tours (to places like Australia, Egypt, Tanzania, the Galapagos Islands, and more) are available, as are domestic tours (coordinators also get "trained" internationally on a tour of their own via convention tours.)
  • G Adventures: This company focuses on couple travel for private group adventures. When seven couples pay for a tour, the eighth travels for free. Tours can be tailored to group needs/interests, with the advantage being the group is not locked in to a company-set, predetermined travel date.
  • Grand Circle: If you are interested in land and sea options, Grand Circle offers both. Want to cruise the great rivers of Europe? Travel to Christmas markets along the Danube? Spend your spring in Holland? Lots of options are available. Agreeing to be a group leader and recruiting as few as eight passengers is rewarded with a free travel package. Learn more and request an informative Group Leader kit here.

If you are interested in flying for free but don't want to organize group travel, stay tuned! More articles are on the way to show you how you can make your travel dreams a reality!

How to Fly for Free: Organizing Group Travel